Common Name: White-handed gibbon
Scientific Name: Hylobates lar
See gibbons on the islands of the Primate Expedition Cruise
Description: These lesser apes weigh between 6 and 8 kg. Coat colors vary from a light buff color to black with all colors having white hands and feet. Thumbs are not connected to the palm but originate freely from the wrist providing great flexibility. The thumbs are rarely used during swinging. The hand is used much more like a hook. The method is good as gibbons are the most agile of all living primates. They move about by the hand over hand swinging method known as brachiation. Casual leaps in excess of 3 meters are common during movement and great leaps of 9 meters or more have been reported. On the ground or on wide branches, gibbons typically walk upright with the hands over the head. Melodic calls are made regularly. The whooping songs are typically heard in the morning hours although there is variation in this.
Range: Thailand, Malaysian peninsula, and northern Sumatra.
Habitat: Rainforest. Predominantly arboreal. Typically found higher in the trees than siamangs.
Diet: Primarily fruit, but insects and small vertebrates are also known.
Social Life: One offspring is produced following a 210 to 225 day gestation. Groups consist of a mother and father and up to four juveniles. Parents are monogamous and develop unique vocalizations by which they may be identified. Gibbons are one of the most territorial of all apes and Old World monkeys. The regular calls help announce their territory and aggressive contact between neighbors is quite rare. White-handed gibbons commonly share their territory, however, with siamangs. The two species use different resources. Siamangs eat more leaves and readily available fruit. White-handed gibbons eat more fruit located on the higher and more slender branches the siamangs are too large to reach.
Conservation: All gibbon species are greatly threatened by deforestation and also some problems from the pet trade. White-handed gibbons are listed as endangered by the USDI and on Appendix I of the CITES.